Publication Date: March 26, 2019
Librarian Martha Storm has always found it easier to connect with books than people—though not for lack of trying. She keeps careful lists of how to help others in her superhero-themed notebook. And yet, sometimes it feels like she’s invisible.
All of that changes when a book of fairy tales arrives on her doorstep. Inside, Martha finds a dedication written to her by her best friend—her grandmother Zelda—who died under mysterious circumstances years earlier. When Martha discovers a clue within the book that her grandmother may still be alive, she becomes determined to discover the truth. As she delves deeper into Zelda’s past, she unwittingly reveals a family secret that will change her life forever.
At first I had a hard time connecting with Martha Storm, who, despite her last name, is a timid doormat. She lets everyone, including her sister and library patrons, step all over her. She mends people's clothes, vases, does their laundry, keep their goldfish alive. She has no life of her own, too busy trying to please everyone. I felt extremely frustrated with her. But then I came upon this passage early on and realized she's good people:
"When Martha stepped inside the library, she closed her eyes and inhaled the earthy, almond scent of books. if she could bottle the aroma, she'd wear it as a perfume. L'eau de la Bibliotheque.
"She took the small battered book from her bag and gave that a sniff too. It smelled musty and sweet with a hint of something else she couldn't place, maybe amber or cinnamon."
There's more to Martha than the long-suffering librarian. All the vibrant parts of her personality somehow got suppressed over the years. But when she finds an unusual book that should not exist, all the uncomfortable secrets surrounding her childhood, domineering father, and dead grandmother come to light.
The Library of Lost and Found went to unusual places and surprised me with the twists and turns of the story. It is heartwarming in the end, but some aspects made me angry and sad, such as Martha's childhood, a study in how to crush a bright and beautiful spirit. Throughout the book, short, original fairy tales are sprinkled here and there to illuminate or enrich what was happening with scenes in the past. These were my favorite parts -as the stories were whimsical but multi-layered.
"The library had been her Narnia, and it still was."
I know the reader was supposed to find Zelda charming and eccentric but her stubborness about explaining everything drove me up the wall.